Can Marxism can help us to understand autistic experience in modern capitalism? How might Marxism inform our struggles for equality and liberation?
There are different approaches to understanding autism. Perhaps the dominant approach is a medical one: seeing autism as a disease or tragedy, and autistic people as being broken and needing fixing. Over recent years, a more progressive approach has developed. It stresses acceptance of autistic people rather than simply “awareness”, and demands rights, equality and support rather than abusive “treatments”.
This approach is based on the concept of neurodiversity: the recognition that the human species is neurologically diverse; that different people have different brain wiring. But this more progressive approach, while welcome, does not necessarily locate autism and neurodiversity within the social, economic and political structures of society. It is important to do this — firstly, because all disability exists in a social context; and secondly, because autism is largely an issue of how people interact socially. We are all expected to follow social rules, but who makes those social rules, and how?
By Joe Booth and Janine Booth, published in Solidarity 426, 11 January 2017
Socialist activists are drafting a manifesto for the Labour Party of radical policies to advance equality for autistic and other neurodivergent people (those with an atypical “brain-wiring”, usually a condition such as dyspraxia or attention deficit disorder). Supported by John McDonnell, a steering group has drafted a proposed manifesto and, having launched it at Labour Party conference in September, is now inviting input from Labour Party and trade union bodies and interested individuals.
When I grew into adulthood in the 1980s, the Tory government's onslaught saw us staring into a bleak future unless we fought back. So we did, and our fightback had a soundtrack.
The better-known voices of that soundtrack — the Paul Wellers and Billy Braggs — are still playing to this day. But one of the less known, and to me one of the best, died last month at the too-young age of 60.
Labour excludes another socialist, from Solidarity 400, 13 April 2016
I joined Labour as a teenager in the 1980s and was expelled in 2003 for standing against Labour when the local Labour council was privatising housing and closing nurseries and other services.